Pay attention to the little things. Great doors swing on little hinges. – Dr. Tayo Adeyemi
With the passing of Labor Day, we just held our last “summer hours Friday” at Southwest Michigan First, meaning this post will probably bring the team great sadness as they read it. But, I still thought it would be worthwhile to explain the method behind the madness. In the summer, our office technically closes at noon on Fridays. It started as an experiment because I noticed so many people were taking personal time off on Friday afternoons anyways. Taking this time off was causing great stress for our team members who were feeling like they were letting the team and the organization down to leave early for a weekend up north with their family, to take their kids to sports tournaments or to head out of town for a wedding.
At Southwest Michigan First, we believe everyone is the CEO of their own responsibilities. Every member of this team clearly understands their individual responsibilities, their individual goals and the organization’s goals. Not only do they understand, but they are fully committed to executing on those goals. No one on this team has an 8:00 am to 5:00 pm role. Our customers are working on the east coast, the west coast and, in a lot of cases, working on European time. We have customer needs come up on the weekends; we have events at night. So, giving Friday afternoons off in the summer is important because it gives people the ability to recharge and spend time with their families.
While having the afternoons off on Fridays eliminates stress, it is clear that no one believes that it eliminates responsibility. Even though the front door may be locked on Fridays at noon, it doesn’t mean the work isn’t getting done. In fact, a lot of people use that time to stay in the office, return any outstanding voicemails or emails for the week and just get caught up. We don’t kick anyone out at noon, we just ask that they not schedule meetings here. And, if they have a need to go spend time with their families and relax, they can use that time between Memorial Day and Labor Day completely guilt free.
Leading up to summer, our folks are swamped. Likewise, the fall keeps our staff just as busy, so we have intentionally chosen the summer as a time to give back to the team by institutionalizing a wellness and engagement strategy that ensures that we continue to see great levels of success. I believe practices like this are also responsible for making our organization one of the 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in West Michigan and the #1 small business to work for in the country.
By closing our doors at noon on Fridays, I am simply saying to the team, “I give you permission to do the important things in your life during this season with a little less stress.” While the summer has just come to a close, as a leader, I invite you to consider your organization’s wellness strategy for the coming year and whether or not it is as robust and effective as it could be – keeping in mind, your people are always your most important asset.
Question: As a leader, how do you find ways to eliminate stress for your team throughout the entire year?